Traffic Light Scam II

More on the Italian traffic light scam. I wrote to Mr. Arrighetti asking for comment, and received this from Silvia Guelpa, who says she is a consultant to the company. In summary, she’s arguing that the company, and its founder Stefano Arrighetti, haven’t done anything wrong and that if anyone has broken the law it’s the companies and police who have been responsible for changing the settings which created the huge volume of tickets.

She makes the points that

  • KRIA is a manufacturer and does not sell to the City Councils but to Companies who rent the T-RED to the Police with contracts based on the number of ticket (about 30%).
  • T-RED—the system–does not actually control the traffic lights, which are managed by a controller.
  • T-RED can be configured to detect immediately after the red phase begins or after a configured delay (0-10.000ms). Local Police and Companies renting the systems set the yellow on the controller for as short a period as possible and reset to zero the above mentioned delay, in order to increase the number of tickets.

This, she says, is what is causing the abnormal number of tickets.

She also says there has already been one investigation, by Milan’s attorney, which concluded after one year that KRIA is “absolutely innocent and out of any private interest.” That investigation, she says, resulted in the arrest of “bosses of the companies buying and renting T-RED and they admitted that they forced and won many tenders incorrectly.”

But with public outcry still strong—three million tickets still had to be paid—Verona’s attorney started investigating KRIA’s certification—whether or not its system had all the right paperwork. The idea, she says, was to find an excuse to cancel all the tickets.

KRIA believes it has all the right certification, arguing that the only parts which need to be certified are “the fixed, immutable components of the device”–cameras, lighting systems, PC and PCI board. But Ms Guelpa says the attorney’s power “is unlimited during the investigation phase. They can even arrest people.”

Her argument is basically that Mr. Arrighetti is being made a scapegoat on a technicality.

Lesson from this? I guess I’m still reeling from the idea that police forces would fiddle the system to fill their coffers, not just in Italy but elsewhere. But I guess the bigger point is that all kinds of technology are susceptible to this kind of manipulation, which raises the question: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

An Idiot’s Guide To Prepaid GPRS

Further to my earlier post about GPRS traveling woes, I asked Syd Low of AlienCamel to offer his thoughts on the subject. He’s something of an old hand at the game.

For the last two years I’ve gone “on the road” to the Alps. My journey goes through Asia, then Switzerland and finally Austria. In 2004 I had a Treo 600 and this year a Treo 650. I’ve used GPRS with prepaid SIM cards in five countries will almost perfect success to stay in touch with friends and colleagues using IM and Email.

In Europe, I usually look for a mobile shop at the airport or train terminal. Zurich airport is great – all three carriers are there -Swisscom, Sunrise and Vodafone. Just wander in, buy a card and you’re on your way in less than 20 minutes. When you return the following year, you just need to get a recharge card and you’re away in 5 minutes. In Asia and Italy, I found that all carriers have shops in the main street. Venice and Verona for example have Vodafone shops conveniently located among the shops and resellers everywhere. Same deal – quick and fast transactions. In Austria where there’s not much competition, the most convenient place is the post office where you can get A1 prepaid cards. Recharge cards are available at supermarkets.

The Treo 650 auto configures to all of these networks and there’s no need to manually make any setting changes. Just put the sim card in and everything just works. I’ve only had a minor glitch with A1. For a few days I couldn’t get GPRS coverage – not sure if it was my phone or the network high in the Alps.

Life would be a lot simpler if there was a carrier that did global roaming with fair rates, but I think it’ll be a blue moon when that happens. Until then, get yourself a little case to get a sim card for each country.

Thanks, Syd.  Oh and here’s a picture of his SIM-card stash:

Simstash